Artificial intelligence, equality and social justice – in his third article, GDI researcher Zhan Li focuses on the interface between technology and the arts. He interviewed historian of technology Marie Hicks and performing artist Valencia James.
Whether through super-intelligent computer minds, collectively intelligent bot swarms, or algorithms quietly driving digital lives, AI is transforming our world. Despite the benefits, AI prevalence causes anxiety; we are handing progressively greater control to machine logics—and their creators. But only a Luddite would oppose AI. Critics should rethink how its future can be shaped, and norms and institutional policies must be focal.
Such dialogue doesn’t exist in isolation. For example, hopes and fears of robots replacing human workers are entwined with immigration policy debates.The question of whether AIs can break the law involves adapting legal systems that consider human AI designers’ motives. And when addressing the need for greater diversity among AI developers, wider struggles for social justice are relevant; for example, the arguments by digital human rights advocates Aral Balkan and Laura Kalbag at the UK’s FutureFest 2018 challenge internet age surveillance capitalism.
Experts Marie Hicks and Valencia James help us navigate the ethical and political questions of AI and how we might learn from technology’s history, the broader arts and humanities, and activism, to rethink its development towards more socially just futures.
Marie Hicks, Ph.D., who was on FutureFest 2018’s internet diversity panel, is a tenured associate professor of history at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. As a historian of technology focused on how the experiences of women and LGBTQI people change our understanding of the development of computing, Marie emphasizes lessons from both past technological successes and failures are needed to help ensure more just futures. Their first book, published by MIT Press, is the groundbreaking “Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing”. More about Hicks and her work in a video interview with Zhan Li:
Valencia James is a choreographer and performing artist from Barbados who graduated with a degree in Modern Dance from the Hungarian Dance Academy. Valencia was a high profile debate speaker at this year’s Brain Bar conference in Budapest, where she championed arguments defending immigration and diversity in Hungary and Europe. Since 2013, Valencia has been researching how AI can be applied to dance and performing arts, and co-founded the AI_am project. This is what James talked about with Zhan Li in another video interview: